I woke up at 2:30 this morning with the light on in my bedroom and Kevin Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead plastered to my face. I had been trying valiantly to finish up the last 30 pages, but apparently my exhaustion won out over Brockmeier’s book.
Even though I haven’t finished this book yet I can say without reservation, you should read this book.
Go get it right now. NOW. You will not regret it. Even if the very last sentence on the very last page is, “then I woke up to discover it was all a dream” the book is still something you should read. The Brief History of the Dead is wonderful, stunning, thought-provoking, evocative and every other lame book-review cliche/superlative I can’t think of right now.
Here’s the basic premise: There’s a city in the afterlife populated by the recently departed who get to live in this city until everyone who remembers them dies.
Doesn’t it give you goosebumps just thinking about it? It gives me the shivers writing about it. The book is glorious and has consumed my every waking thought this week.
Since the city is only populated by people who are remembered by the living. One of the recently-dead sits down to try to make a list of all the people he can remember and his list contains like 40,000 people. I’ve become obsessed with this notion. I haven’t made the list of all the people I can remember, but I want to.
I want to remember everyone I’ve ever come across. I was thinking about someone this morning, and thought ‘huh I should write about that.’ And now I can’t remember the who or what of it. If I were the last person on earth (and this kind of happens in the book), that person would not make the city cut.
There has been much bally-hoo about Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-prize winning/Oprah Bookclub, post-apocalyptic powerhouse The Road. Eh. I am still kind of lukewarm about it and the whole apostrophe nightmare.
For some reason these Brockmeier’s and McCarthy’s books have become intertwined in my head. They’re both apocalyptic tales, but Brockmeier’s book is everything I wanted The Road to be. Where McCarthy’s book beats you about the face and neck with its unrelenting bleakness, it’s lacking in imagination and, well, emotion.
Brockmeier’s book is filled with imagination, emotion, cleverness, and even humor. God I love this book. You can read Brockmeier’s Book Notes over at Largehearted Boy.